iPhone may herald a whole new way to shop for homes
Could Apple’s new iPhone have been more hyped? Maybe not, but a feature of the mobile phone announced last week could have an enduring impact on real estate marketing.
Technology vendors have talked for a decade, at least, about the idea of convergence. Some day, the telephone, television and personal computer will merge into one device through which we will pursue networked “edutainment.” TV set-top boxes get more sophisticated with each new generation, but we’re a lot closer to true convergence on our mobile phones.
Like many Realtors, I use a Treo 650 mobile phone. In addition to being able to make calls, it has Internet access and email capability onboard. Underneath all that is a Palm-OS-based personal digital assistant, a small but very powerful computer that “syncs” with my desktop computer back in the office.
It’s long been my belief that a sufficiently powerful mobile phone could replace my laptop computer. Even now, my Treo 650 is only missing one mission-critical function: I cannot directly access the MLS system through my phone.
The iPhone may be the laptop-killer for Realtors. The new version of Apple’s Safari Internet browser, to be included on the iPhone, successfully navigates the MLS system. The contract-writing software Phoenix-area Realtors use can be run through a Web-based service. Between portable, battery-powered printers, emailed PDF documents and the onset of digital signatures, a hi-tech Realtor could have a fully functioning office in his pocket or her purse.
And Apple also announced last week that the iPhone would implement the YouTube.com video standard. Because of the company’s marketing clout, we can expect other phone and software vendors to follow suit.
What this means in that someday soon, you will be able to drive from house to house in a neighborhood, visiting each home’s Web site and taking video virtual tours, all without getting out of the car.
When you find a home you want to see in person, your means of making contact with your Realtor will be right there in your hand.